|Top EU man
Sri Lankan born Vice
President of the Committee on Overseas Development
of the European Parliament, Niranjan Deva-Aditya
(Nirj Dev) yesterday condemned more than ten
impossible conditions set by the EU to renew Sri
Lanka’s GSP Plus facility as interference in the
internal affairs of a sovereign state.
Deva-Aditya told The Nation that it was up to the
parliament, government and people of Sri Lanka to
decide on the laws that should govern them and not
the business of ex-colonial masters to instruct a
former colony what to do.
The EU last week laid down a total of 15
conditions to Sri Lanka requesting a written
undertaking by July 01 to implement them in order
for it to extend it a for limited additional period
from August 15, when the present facility comes to
an end. These included demands to fully comply with
the International Convenant on Civil and Political
Rights, amend sections of the Prevention of
Terrorism Act and Public Security Ordinance,
implementation of the 17th Amendment, repeal 2005
Emergency Regulations, extend invitations to top UN
officials, publication of names of LTTE combatants
in custody and granting of access to all places of
Deva-Aditya, who has been waging a battle on
behalf of Sri Lanka in this regard during the past
many months, said it was not the 700 elected fellow
MPs of the European Parliament that was making all
these demands, but the European Commission (the
civil service) at the behest of the European Council
(the second chamber) made up of European government
As far as the demand for complying with the
covenants of the ICCPR, he said it was fair since
Sri Lanka had signed it some years back. “Since the
country has signed the agreement there is no choice
but to meet its obligations, but other demands are
gross interference in the country’s internal
affairs”, he said.
In his opinion, Deva-Aditya said it would suffice
for the Sri Lankan government to give a written
undertaking by July 01 to comply with ICCPR to
obtain the extension to GSP Plus.
The Government, on Wednesday, rejected the EU’s
fresh demands stating that it had gone beyond
earlier stipulations pertaining to labour issues and
was trying to dictate political changes which could
not be complied with.
Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the post
Cabinet media briefing that EU’s fresh demands
violated the integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka
and involved changes to the constitution, which the
government was not prepared to do.
Minister Rambukwella noted that the loss of the
facility would only cost Sri Lanka $ 150mn a year
and in a way it was good as it would force the local
industry to develop in order to survive.
A leading garment industrialist too noted that what
was being asked by the EU now was even more than
what opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had been
Sources said removal of the facility would also hit
European and American industrialists who have made
some heavy investments in the apparel sector here
like Brandix, Intimissimi, Victoria’s Secret and
Marks and Spencer.